"When, as a child, I first opened my eyes on a Sunday-morning, a feeling of dismal anicipation, which began at least on the Friday, culminated. I knew what was before me, and my wish, if not my word, was "Would God it were evening!" It was no day of rest, but a day of texts, of catechisms (Watts'), of tracts about converted swearers, godly charwomen, and edifying deaths of sinners saved.... There was but one rosy spot, in the distance, all that day: and that was "bed-time," which never could come too early!"
"It's almost impossible to deal with a crazy man, except that he does have religious beliefs, and the world of Islam will be damaged if a fanatic like him should commit murder in the name of religion against 60 innocent people."
"When theology erodes and organization crumbles, when the institutional framework of religion begins to break up, the search for a direct experience which people can feel to be religious facilitates the rise of cults. A cult differs from a formal religion in many significant ways. It is in the nature of a cult to claim some esoteric knowledge which has been submerged (or repressed by orthodoxy) for a long time but has now suddenly been illuminated. There is often some heterodox figure, mocked or scorned by the orthodox, who presents these new teachings. There are communal rites which often permit or spur an individual to act out impulses that had hitherto been repressed. In the cult, one feels as though one were exploring novel or hitherto taboo modes of conduct. What defines a cult, therefore, is its implicit emphasis on magic rather than theology, on the personal tie to a guru or to the group, rather than to an institution or a creed."
"And so it goes, back and forth, good church-members all, which means that their banter contains nothing off-color, and by the same token, nothing that was coined later than the first batch of buffalo nickels."
"It goes without saying that religion thus conceived is the opposite of magic. The latter is essentially selfish, the former admits of and often even demands disinterestedness. The one claims to force the compliance of nature, the other implores the favor of a god. Above all, magic works in an environment which is semi-physical and semi-moral--the magician, at all events is not dealing with a person; whereas on the contrary it is from the god's personality that religion draws its greatest efficacy. Granted that primitive intelligence thinks it perceives around it, in phenomena and in events, elements of personality rather than complete personalities, religion, as we have just understood it, will ultimately reinforce these elements to the extent of completely personifying them; whereas magic looks upon them as debased, dissolved, as it were, in a material world in which their efficacy can be tapped."
"It seems, Euphranor..., that there is nothing so singularly absurd as we are apt to think, in the belief of mysteries; and that a man need not renounce his reason to maintain his religion. But if this were true, how comes it to pass, that, in proportion as men abound in knowledge, they dwindle in faith?"